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News & features archive, 2011

Village-based biosecurity

Community participation in prevention and control of HPAI in South and West Sulawesi, Indonesia
© FAO-Indonesia

25 January 2011 - Since 2006 the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has been developing a system of passive surveillance and village-based prevention and control of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1 HPAI) based on the Participatory Disease Surveillance and Response (PDSR) approach.

PDSR is driven by the active involvement of community members given that community participation is an essential element in HPAI prevention and control. Evidence suggests that many aspects of the way villagers live with, produce, trade and market poultry contribute to the ongoing transmission of HPAI in these village environments.  A significant part of the work of a PDSR officer involves provision of education and extension to village community members to assist in the prevention of disease transmission. The prevention and control of HPAI should not be addressed on an individual disease-specific basis; therefore, the development and implementation of a village-based biosecurity education and communication (VBEC) programme could be complementary and helpful in promoting specific changes in husbandry practices that prevent disease transmission.

The VBEC programme began in August 2009 with a qualitative and quantitative sociocultural assessment in six pilot villages to allow better comprehension of community understandings, beliefs and practices with regards to poultry keeping, poultry disease and its movements. Prior to a village-based workshop, an initial training for field workers from local NGOs together with local livestock services staff and community leaders was provided to enhance their capacity in community engagement plus a basic understanding of causes and movement of disease and how it may be prevented, which contributed to the development of realistic biosecurity action plans.

During this process the role of PDSR officers or local livestock services staff is to provide technical assistance and public awareness as well as dispelling misconceptions and ingrained cultural beliefs about how viruses move and how diseases may be prevented. This approach is acknowledged as bottom up, where the local community takes the initiative of working together to implement a series of HPAI prevention and control activities that are realistic and in line with local conditions. The resulting action plans were agreed in each village with the involvement of a district livestock services staff member to ensure continuity, feedback and technical soundness.

In response to the observation that the village team (consisting of district livestock services staff, community leaders and local NGOs field staff) had difficulty in applying effective methods in facilitation of community mobilization and training activities, a session of training-of-trainers was provided to ensure that the village team had the ability to facilitate information, education and communication (IEC) activities at the village level.

The IEC activities targeted existing community groups such as Posyandus (village integrated health services), religious and devotional groups, self-help and women’s groups, churches and mosques, elementary, junior and high school students, and other miscellaneous community gatherings. In villages where commercial poultry producers exist, specific technical extension messages were provided including technical discussions covering management issues, poultry anatomy and practical biosecurity pertinent to the levels of production systems present. Organic matter composting demonstrations were also conducted to introduce a safe method for poultry carcass disposal.

As part of a communication strategy to support behavioral changes, a series of competitions were organized to encourage community participants to apply biosecurity practices that were specifically adapted to local conditions. These activities included competitions for best biosecurity practice in villages, competitions for hobby birds (crowing cocks) with avian influenza awareness and biosecurity themes. Biosecurity speech contests for housewives and biosecurity quizzes for elementary school students from each pilot village were also organized to allow village-based biosecurity volunteer teams to share their experiences. This helped provide inspiration for them to continue developing village-based efforts to improve poultry biosecurity and husbandry.

The ongoing VBEC programme activities have shown a need for communication materials without the use of highly technical language. Four biosecurity educational films were produced. These were aimed at owners of backyard chickens, hobby chickens and village-based producers of broilers and layers. The short educational films illustrated common village practices associated with poultry; showing with computer-enabled animations how viruses are able to move and spread in villages, and provide practical solutions to prevent or control virus spread. Finally, the programme developed a VBEC documentary with images and narration of the village-based biosecurity action plan creation process. The film focused on village field activities including meetings, training activities and competitions, as well as interviews with key partners from government, village authorities, local NGO’s and respected community members.